The Writing Sparrow Episode 31 | Writing Routines: Julia Blake

Once a month, I talk to another writer about their writing routine. We answer questions such as Are you a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between? ,  Do you write every day? ,  Where does your inspiration come from?,  What’s your beverage of choice?, and many more! At the end of each episode, the writers recommend their favourite book on writing and share their advice for establishing the right writing routine for you.

This month, I talked to Julia Blake, a multi-genre author from England.

To find out more about Julia, check out her website or follow her on Instagram.

Listen to the Episode

Read the Transcript

[The Writing Sparrow theme]

Sarina: Hello, and welcome to The Writing Sparrow Podcast. I’m Sarina Langer. This podcast is all about writing, publishing and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started. 

[music]

Sarina: Good morning, and welcome back, friends and Sparrows. It’s the 12th of April 2021. This is Episode 31. Today, I have Julia Blake back with me to talk about her writing routine. Welcome back, Julia.

Julia: No, I’m just thrilled that you actually have me back, obviously I behaved myself last time.

Sarina: Of course. You did very well last time. 

Julia: Oh, thank you.

Sarina: I didn’t do very well last time, because we’ve got a few questions– well, quite a few questions last time from your followers on Instagram. There’s one that [00:01:00] I completely forgot to ask about. If we start with that one today, and I’m very sorry, Bruce, that I forgot about your question last time, we will start with it today. Then, I also have with usual 15 questions that I ask every writer who comes in to talk about their routine. You’ve just told me as well that your internet connection is a little bit unstable, so we may run into some issues with that, but hopefully it’s fine. If we start with author, Bruce A. Hansen’s question from Instagram, which is most commercial author stick to one genre, the masses seem to really like that. What advantages and disadvantages have you seen in your approach?

Julia: Okay, first of all, hi Bruce, thank you for the question. Again, this question implies that there’s actually a method to my madness. 

Sarina: [chuckles] 

Julia: I know that [00:02:00] if I was traditionally published, they probably would pin me down and say, “Right, pick a genre.” That is probably the biggest reason why I like being indie published, because I have complete freedom. I have autonomy over what I can write because I just love stories. I love telling stories. For me, the genre doesn’t really matter. Now, I took a conscious decision– well, maybe not a conscious decision, but I think at the beginning, people did suggest to me that I use a different pen name for every single genre and I think we’ve touched on this before, but I’m so far up to eight different genres, I would have schizophrenia, I would not know who I was, and marketing that many different genres, I get quivers just thinking about it. 

Sarina: It sounds like a nightmare. 

Julia: It does, it sounds like a real identity crisis going on there. I have enough going on without dealing with that as well. I then realized that [00:03:00] people were actually– although people sorted out this issue for me, they were like, “Oh, Julia Blake, she’s the multi-genre author.” That kind of put a label on me, which I was happy with that, I’m comfortable with that. From that, the tagline developed Julia Blake, an Author for all Seasons, and I sort of ran with that as well. I really liked it because an interview I did way back several years ago, the interviewer actually put that label on me and said, “Oh, so you’re an Author for all Seasons,” and I really liked that. I thought, “Yes, I like that.” So, I’ve run with that as being my tagline. Am I commercially viable? Probably not. 

[laughter] 

Julia: So, is any indie author commercially viable, really? Also, I think the thing was having lots of genres under your belt. If the reader doesn’t like a particular genre, well, I’ve got another seven, eight. I’ve got a good one that you will like. Maybe in a way, not [00:04:00] having all your eggs in one basket does actually increase your readership. I hope that answered your question, Bruce. [crosstalk]

Sarina: I think it does. That was quite thorough and in depth. Hopefully, that’s all right. I think it eased my mind a little bit every time I consider writing in another genre. Thank you for that. If we start with the 15 questions that I ask everybody, let’s start with the most important one on my list. I think I actually already know the answer to that one. Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between?

Julia: Oh, complete and utter freefall, no parachute, no planning, no looking ahead, pantser. Let’s just jump out the plane and see what happens.

[laughter] 

Julia: I could not plot my way out of a paper bag, because when I sit down to write a story, usually I have the title, I have a character and I have a vague concept, but that could change. [00:05:00] I just write the first line, get the first line down, and then it’s linear for me. I’m not one of those authors who jumps ahead and writes the scene and then goes back. I start at the beginning, and I just work my way through until I hit the end. Yeah, pantser, definitely. Although I don’t like that word, being British, that just denotes underwear to me. I wish they think of a new word for us.

Sarina: Or, we do need something different. If you’re a bit of both, which I think most writers are, then that’s quite easy, because you can then put plotter and pantser together to make plotster, for example, which I think works a lot better. [laughs] 

Julia: I think I’m organic. I’m an organic writer. Let’s put it that way.

Sarina: Let’s run with that then. what does your writing routine look like?

Julia: Ooh, again, routine. A tricky word for me. I’m the world’s worst procrastinator. It takes me absolutely forever to put my backside down in the [00:06:00] chair and actually start writing. I will think of a million different reasons why I should not sit down and write. “Ooh, the shed needs sorting out.” “Ooh, I need to go and clean out my freezer.” There’s always a reason why I shouldn’t write. But then, when I decide to and I sit down, it’s like a little voice inside me says, “Ooh, you actually love this. Why haven’t you done this more often?” Then, once I get my teeth into a project, I’m absolutely tunnel vision. I like the house to be quiet and I like to be alone in the house. Of course, this past year, that has not happened very much. [crosstalk] 

Sarina: No. It’s been a little bit difficult for people like us who need silence when we are writing.

Julia: Yes. I’m not one of those writers who can have a playlist blaring in the background because I would just stop, come into the music and I will get totally– I would find I was typing the lyrics into the story– [crosstalk] 

Sarina: Yes. That’s how I am with that. 

Julia: Yeah, I need silence. And if the people in the street could possibly shut up as well, that would be very nice. 

Sarina: Yes.

Julia: I don’t have a lot of [00:07:00] complicated stuff, there is just my desk. I always write at my desk, it’s my writing zone. When I sit down at my desk, it’s because I’m going to do something author related. It’s my work zone. I can’t write sitting on a sofa with my laptop, because I’d need six strong men to straighten my back, back out of the [unintelligible [00:07:21] afterwards. It’s always at a proper chair, at my desk, with my laptop, and the only equipment I have is a glass of water. That’s it. It’s not too close to the laptop. After the “hot chocolate” incident in 2016, I’m not allowed to–[crosstalk] 

Sarina: Okay.

Julia: Yes, there were casualties. I’m not allowed to have beverages anywhere near my laptop anymore.

Sarina: Oh, that sounds terrible. It’s the last thing you want, isn’t it? When you’re just sitting down and you have high hopes of writing all the words, and then, bam, laptop broken because you spilled your drink, and you spilled the drink.

Julia: Yeah, hot chocolate, all over the laptop. 

Sarina: You lose a– [crosstalk] Oh. [00:08:00] That sounds painful. [chuckles] I feel like we’ve maybe preempted this next question a little bit already as well, but I’ll ask anyway. Do you set yourself specific goals when you sit down to write? For example, do you have a certain number of words in your head that you want the overall work in progress to have? Or, do you set yourself a certain amount of time to write for every day? 

Julia: No. I don’t write every day.

Sarina: That would have been my next question. 

Julia: I think that can be a little bit of misleading. That’s misleading information for new authors, write every single day, or you’re not a proper writer. Well, if all you’re doing is you’re at home, and all you’re doing is writing, and it’s your job, and it’s what you earn money from then, yes, obviously that gets priority. But sadly, like most indie authors, I’m not in a position where my writing is my main job. My main job has to come first, because that’s what pays all the bills. I’ve completely lost track. What’s the question again? [00:09:00]

Sarina: Do you set yourself word count goals, for example or– Yeah.

Julia: Well, for the actual book or for each writing session?

Sarina: Either way.

Julia: Okay. Well, if it’s a book in a series that I’ve already written books for, for example, The Perennials Trilogy, nearly was 175,000 words. Daisy, I think almost 160,000. I know when I write the third book, it’s going to be in that ballpark. It’s going to be because obviously, if you’ve got the books lined up on a shelf, you can’t have big book, big book, tiny book. There has to be continuity in a series. Likewise, when I’m writing the Blackwood Family Saga, they all clock in at between 52,000 and 54,000 words. They’re short, snappy reads. Of course, the other books I write in that series must fall into that word count. You can’t go any further. But if it’s a new book, and I’m sitting down to write it, I really have no idea [00:10:00] how when many words that is going to– usually too many. When I wrote Black Ice, it started out– it was going to be a short story, and it’s only going to be 3000 or 4000 words long. Well, 150,000 words later, I paid no attention to that word count whatsoever.

Individual sessions, when I sit down to write, I’m more of an idea person. I sit down and think, “Right, I’ve got this scene that I want to write, I would really like to get that scene down today. Never mind about the word count, it doesn’t matter if it’s like 800 words or 8000 words, it doesn’t matter. This scene, I want to get down. I don’t want to walk away halfway through the scene.” Usually my brain goes, “Okay, you want the scene,” and the words just play out to me. Then when the scene is done, I’m usually exhausted, and I’m dry. That’s it for now, so I stop. There’s no conscious, sort of, I don’t sit down and think, “Today, I’m going to write 3000 words.” I think that’s just setting yourself up to fail. If you say that and then you only manage 2000, you’re going to feel [00:11:00] dreadful. But if you sit down and just say, “Well, let’s just see what happens. I would just love to get some words done.” You do 2000 words, you’re going to go, “Wow, awesome. That’s brilliant.” I think set realistic goals is the tip anyway in life.

Sarina: I think sitting down with the goal of just writing a specific scene is quite a good approach for it as well, because obviously, your individual scenes are going to make up the entire book. So, if you already have a strong idea for a scene, and you know you have time to write, and you’re excited to write the scene, why not try to get the whole thing done? I don’t massively like stopping in the middle of any one scene or any one chapter. But at the same time, it then also helps me to get back to it next time I go back into write, but it can also be really fulfilling, I think, if we can wrap up a whole scene in one session.

Julia: Also, I think, if you write, especially if it’s something like a battle scene or an action scene, if you can get that down in one hit [00:12:00] in one mad, panicked, urgent rush, I think that comes out in the writing. I think that sense of urgency does come through in the writing, and it will put the reader right in the moment. I think sometimes people can overthink things like that. 

Sarina: Yeah, I think so. Just speaking from my own experience, I’m terrible at writing battle scenes, for example. When I plan them because I’m a plotter, see? [chuckles] 

Julia: Mm-hmm. 

Sarina: When I go into the writing sprint for the day, for example, I know that I have this battle scene to write. I’ve known for a while that I would have this battle scene to write eventually, but I have no idea really when the time comes to do it, how to do it. My notes will just say write epic battle scene and I just stare at it and go, “Um, character picks up sword, character hopes to not die.” I don’t know. I’m terrible with writing things like battle [00:13:00] scenes. I agree that if you already have the energy for it, and if you’re feeling really pumped up to write it, then that definitely comes through in the writing, assuming that you know what you’re doing, which is never a given on any day.

Julia: No, certainly not for me. 

[chuckles] 

Sarina: Has your writing routine changed at all over the years? If so, what have you changed and why?

Julia: No, I’ve always written in this way. When I first started writing novels, my daughter was very young, she was a baby, and she was going down for long naps. My word, that child slept for Britain. 

Sarina: [laughs] 

Julia: I’m not complaining but sometimes it was quite alarming how much she slept. I used nap times and knowing that I was against the clock that she could wake– She was generally a good child, she did sleep a lot but she could wake at any moment. My writing time was going to be curtailed at some point. It’s like, “This is the time I have to write, so you better write, girl.” [00:14:00] There was none of this, “Do I feel like writing? No, I don’t.” It was that, “This is the only time you’re going to have to write, so you have got to write.” I think I need that kick up the backside. I need that kind of– If I’m given too much time, I will fill it. I will faff about and then suddenly, I will go, “Ooh, no, I have a lot of time to write now.” Whereas if I’m told, you have an hour, hour and a half, tops, get to it. Then you sit down and suddenly in that hour and a half you’ve done 3000 words, that is how I cut my teeth writing novels. I think that habit has stayed with me. Now when I decide to write, I’m going to write now. I sit down and I just hammer out the words.

Sarina: I was really surprised last year to see that I really work in exactly the same way. I figured when I stay home to write, if I do it full time self-employed style, I’d get a lot more writing done because I wouldn’t have any other distractions in the way like a day job. [00:15:00] But that’s not at all what happens. As you said, if you have too much time on your hands, you end up filling that time with other things. I think because I had that much time, I always thought, “Well, if I don’t write today, doesn’t matter, because I can then write tomorrow.” But then the next day, I had exactly the same thought. Now, that I’m back at the day job, and actually, when I still went in physically, back in the day, when that was a thing, when we were allowed to do that, I made a point of getting up earlier so I could write for just 15 minutes in the morning. Like you said, I then had that urgency of, “If I don’t write now, I’m not going to get any writing done, so this has to happen. Or else, I’m not going to do any.” It’s probably some of the best words I’ve written to be honest because you then have that urgency.

Julia: Yeah. I think is probably as well, that’s one of the reasons why a lot of authors didn’t write, or don’t write well in lockdown, because there’s, “Oh, I’ve got all day to write,” and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. “You know [00:16:00] what? Today, I’m just going to put on my pajamas and watch Netflix.”

Sarina: I eventually got into a better routine. To begin with, it didn’t help that I had burned out pretty badly, in my defense, which isn’t much of a defense because I pushed myself into a burnout. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, so that’s a lesson learned. 

Julia: Yeah.

Sarina: I think now when I sit down to write, I do now have a lot more time because we’re in lockdown. But I still try to limit how much time I give myself so that I don’t feel– Well, if I want to write longer, I can. So, I do tend to set short timers, 15 minutes or half an hour is what I try to limit my writing time to now. Then, I feel that I write with so much more focus. 

Julia: There is nothing like a time constraint to really sharpen the mind, really make you realize that, “This is the only time you’ve got, so make the most of it.” For me, the timing of lockdown was both good and [00:17:00] bad, because I was embarked on updating and republishing several books. I had [unintelligible [00:17:06] that I was doing, three Blackwood books plus The Book of Eve, of course, that was a huge major reconstruction job. They just coincided with the first lockdown. Everyone was saying to me, “Oh, I bet you’re writing lots in lockdown.” Well, actually, no, I’m not, but I hadn’t planned to. Even if I was still at work, this is what I would still be doing because– but the only thing was, instead of it taking me six months to get these four books or five books out, it only took me three. So, lockdown was great in that I had all day to sit down and edit, format, and source images and cover and things like that, it was great in that way. If I wasn’t doing those books, then I would have written. 

The irony is that as soon as lockdowns lifted, and I went back to work in June, and we got Book of Eve out in July, that was a big push. We got that out in July. I sat down mid-August, [00:18:00] and started Black Ice, six weeks later, 150,000 words was out, and that was on top of working. I did do overtime as well, so it was on top of doing my job, plus overtime. I think time is irrelevant issue, isn’t it? If you’ve got the time, you tend to fill it.

Sarina: Yeah. That was going to be my next question as well. If lockdown has affected your writing at all? But it sounds like for you, it’s been very beneficial.

Julia: It has. It’s given me time to do stuff. Then, of course, November, we were back into lockdown for a month in November, and that was the month in which I published Black Ice. So, having whole days to do final edits, final polishing, final formatting, setting up all the promo material, liaising with my formatting company, and just getting it out. That took up the whole of November. Then, of course, I went back to it, and then we’re back into lockdown now, but, of course, at the moment, [00:19:00] I am just going to grab doing a few other bits and pieces of tweaks, I’m working on my website. I’m trying to branch out into other social media because Instagram seems to have issues, so I’m sort of exploring other platforms as well. I’m constantly busy with writer things, but not actually writing, if that makes sense.

Sarina: Yeah. There’s a lot more that goes into writing a book anyway than just the writing that isn’t there. It might feel like you’re not being productive in terms of actually writing the thing, but really, you are doing a lot of work towards that.

Julia: Yes. Promoting is obviously a big thing that goes on behind the scenes and readers are not aware of it, and that takes up a huge amount of time. 

Sarina: Massive amount of time.

Julia: [crosstalk] -time I would rather be writing, but there it goes.

Sarina: It’s to be done. It’s a necessary evil. What writing program do you use?

Julia: Oh, all the writers out there all going to laugh at me. I have a really old laptop and [00:20:00] it has basic Word on it, and that’s what I use.

Sarina: That’s enough. You don’t need anything fancy.

Julia: I don’t need anything fancy. I literally don’t. I know Word. Before my current job, I was a professionally trained secretary, and I understand Word, I know how to use it. Everybody sort of lauds the benefits of using things like Scrivener, and I just look at them and think, “Why should I pay to have something when I have something that does the job just as well?” I’m sure Scrivener is fine, and maybe in the future it will be something I’ll explore but at the moment, I like Word, I understand it, and I tend to get things done, I understand.

Sarina: I do have a love-hate relationship with Word, because when it works, it works really well for me. I love using Word for editing. So, I write in Scrivener, and I edit in Word. But when it doesn’t work, and when it breaks down, I’m always ready to throw my laptop out the window because I feel like every now and again, for no reason whatsoever, Word just closes itself down [00:21:00] and restarts and I do not understand why.

Julia: [laughs] There are certain issues of Word, section breaks and pagination over section breaks that has caused me many a tear.

Sarina: That’s a formatting issue though. That’s not Word though, that’s just formatting being– it’s horrible, hell itself. 

Julia: Well, they made it as difficult as they could possibly make it. I’m sure there were easier ways.

Sarina: Thank God then for businesses like Platform House Publishing that make it so easy, and they just do it for us. Bless Becky.

Julia: I do all of the formatting so when I actually send my document across to Becky, it is in the correct template. It has got all the section breaks, it is paginated, it has all the dropped capitals, it has all the headings, it has the illustrations, everything is perfect. So, she literally just goes in, tweaks it, [00:22:00] make sure everything stays where it’s put. She does some kind of magic, arcane magic, some of the illustrations-

Sarina: It is. 

Julia: -so they don’t go wandering off. I don’t quite know what she does. I think she waves a wand and stirs up a potion. I don’t know quite what goes in there. Then, when it comes back to me, I know I can rest assured that I can upload that into KDP and it won’t move. When I go in and look at the preview, I won’t go, “What? No, that’s not what I wanted.”

Sarina: That was my problem back in the day when I first started writing my first book and I was still using OpenOffice. I swear I edited one thing, and everything shifted. Oh, I hated that thing. I’m sure it works perfectly fine for people who really understand it, but it’s not the program for me.

Julia: I remember early days, Becoming Lili is a huge book. I remember it was all perfect in the Word document, so I uploaded [00:23:00] it to KDP. When I went into the preview, it had all shifted ever so slightly, so it had knocked all my chapters out, knocked all the page numbers out. I had a lot of chapters that ended with a little orphan, just kind of one line at the top of the page, which I absolutely hate. I was going back in and trying to pull everything back and then uploading it and looking, “No, it’s still not right.” Then going back down, nightmare. Now, thank goodness for Platform House Publishing, and the adorable Becky, she just does it all for me. [crosstalk] 

Sarina: She loves doing it. I always think I may as well. Makes her happy, makes me happy, everybody wins. I think you’ve already mentioned this a little bit earlier, but what are three important things you need to have when you’re writing? I don’t know if tea was mentioned.

Julia: Tea first thing, definitely. I’m a tea drinker first thing in the morning. Then when I’m actually writing, a big glass of water. I don’t know if I breathe faster or I just dehydrate or [00:24:00] something but I get incredibly thirsty when I’m writing. I’m always gulping down water. Peace of mind, I have to have an uncluttered mind. If I’m worrying about something, then the words just don’t come. If I’m stressed or I’m really upset about something, it’s very hard for me to write because the way I write is literally just open up my brain and then it goes straight from my imagination to my fingertips. I think if there’s clutter in my head, it stops the process. It gets in the way of the thoughts, you know what I mean? So, a clear head definitely. 

A decent chair. I have slight back issues. If I slump or slouch, which I’m bad for doing, especially as I sit for long hours, sometimes I’ll sit for 8, 9, 10 hours writing and if I’ve not had my back, my spine properly supported, then I will pay for those 10 hours. Also, when it’s cold, fingerless mittens, [00:25:00] because if my wrists get cold– I find my wrists get really cold when I’m writing, and then I get really sore wrists and I get repetitive strain injury. I’ve found that just a nice pair of cheap woolen wrist warmers, fingerless mittens, and that sort of solves the problem. That’s my needs, quite simple.

Sarina: I was meaning to get myself some nice fingerless gloves for writing, especially in the winter.

Julia: They are amazing. My [crosstalk] pair there. 

Sarina: Oh, they look so comfy, too. 

Julia: They are. 

Sarina: I like anything that’s soft and fuzzy and warm. I’m very easy to please. You said about writing that you need a clear mind, an uncluttered mind. Do you find that you avoid writing if you’re feeling stressed or if you have something worrying you? Or, is there anything that you do to unclutter your mind before you start writing?

Julia: Believe it or not, a few rounds of Tetris will help or a few rounds of Candy Crush will just help. [00:26:00] It just take away– I think the banality of the game and the mindless repetition of the game just helps me, almost like a meditation sort of thing, almost like taking a deep breath before I go in. That can sometimes help. But if I’m really stressed and worried, then there’s no point in even opening my laptop because nothing’s going to come out. Or if something does come out, it’s going to be deleted next day.

Sarina: No, that’s fair enough. What do you do when writing gets difficult for you? I think some people call this writer’s block, which I don’t believe in.

Julia: I’m going to make myself hated by every single writer if I say I never actually had writer’s block. [crosstalk] 

Sarina: See, I don’t believe it exists, to be honest, so I’m right there with you.

Julia: I have the opposite problem. I have writer’s diarrhea. Is that a thing? 

Sarina: It should be. 

Julia: I have the problem, I have too many stories in my head, and it’s the, “Which one do I write next?” So many words. [00:27:00]

Sarina: Well, that’s good to know. I think with most people that when we talk about writer’s block, what they really mean is either that they’ve burned out on writing, and they need a break. Or, they’re procrastinating too much, and they don’t really want to write.

Julia: They’re overthinking it, maybe they’re just like we said, overthinking. I had one young writer who actually messaged me. I do get quite a lot of young writers who messaged me asking for advice, which is lovely. I’m not quite sure I’m the best person to ask, but I always do my best to help. One young writer said, “I just sit down and I’m just staring at a blank page and I can’t write anything. I’m trying to plot this book.” I said, “So just write a short story.”

Sarina: Yeah. don’t overthink it. Just write something. 

Julia: “Go away, and write me a 100-word story, and come back to me tomorrow. Here’s your title.” She went, “Oh.” She went to work. She came back next day and said, “I’ve written it and it was really good.” I said, “How do you feel?” She said, “That was amazing. It was so exciting.” Looking at the word [00:28:00] count, thinking, “[gasps] I’ve gone up to 101 words, what word can I take out.” She said, “I feel is also helped me in preparation for writing the blog.” This understanding that you can pare down a sentence to its absolute basic, and it still made sense. But sometimes, words are too much, that more is not always a good thing, it’s sometimes just more. She said, “This is a fantastic exercise, and I am going to use this quite a lot in the future. This little flash fiction I wrote has actually given me an idea for another novel.” I was like, “Oh, there you go then.” Last I know, she was doing really well. She finished a book, so that was wonderful–[crosstalk] 

Sarina: Oh, brilliant. Congratulations to this writer if she’s listening. Well done. This may be a slightly hated question, possibly for every author, but I’ll ask anyway. Where does your inspiration come from?

Julia: Oh, goodness me. I don’t know.

[chuckles] 

Julia: Usually out of the ether, spirit world, fifth dimension. [00:29:00] I don’t know. Sometimes, I can pin down the exact moment when a story idea comes to me. I remember before I wrote Book of Eve, I actually went to an aunt’s funeral. She was elderly and she’d been ill for a long time. I looked around at all these people at the funeral who I hadn’t seen some of them in years, and I suddenly thought how funerals are a great gathering place, maybe more so than weddings, because weddings are all about joy and happiness. Whereas a funeral is about hugging someone and sharing emotions, sharing these memories and nostalgia and regrets. I went away from that funeral with an idea in my head of starting a book at a funeral of actually starting the book with the death of the main character, their funeral, and then working from there. 

I was sort of kicking ideas around about that and the ideas were brewing in my head. Then, I went to bed that night. Normally, I don’t dream, but this night I had a very vivid dream, and I dreamt [00:30:00] of a woman sitting on a white marble staircase with actual blood flowing down staircase. I woke up before, “Good heavens, where did that come from?” I knew that was the pivotal moment of the book that I had in my head. I don’t give too many spoilers, but it is one of the pivotal moments in the book. If you want to know how those two things connect, you’ll have to read the book. 

Apart from that, all my other books have just floated in. Obviously, Black Ice, I was given the remit of Snow White. I had that as barebones to work from. The only others book that I can definitely pinpoint the exact moment and go, “There, that’s where that came from,” was The Forest. It’s a long time ago, it’s about 10 years ago, and I was at a big family party. One of those family parties that go from great-grandfathers sitting in the corner, clutching a pint of beer, down to babies and push chairs in the other corner and every generation in between, huge family party. It was getting towards the end of the party. [00:31:00] My brother and I were sitting there, finishing up a bottle of wine between us. Just sitting there and listening. There was a group of grandfathers, an elderly gentleman behind us having a wonderful conversation about the past and people they knew. Suddenly, my ear was caught by the most amazing name I’ve ever heard in my life. One old gent lent across to the other old gent and said, “Whatever happened to old Wally Twitchett?” 

[chuckles] 

Julia: My brother and I just looked at each other and I turned around and said, “Who?” [laughs] He said, “Wally Twitchett.” I said, “Please tell me that was the real person.” they said, “Oh, yeah, old Wally used to ride around the village on his old bike, he did. Wonder he didn’t fall off it.” By the time I got home that evening, I had Wally Twitchett in my head. I knew what he looked like down to the rickety old bone-shaker bike, down to his patched with clean clothes, his protruding Adam’s apple and [00:32:00] a big braggy nose. I had him in my head. I had to find a wonderful village for him to live in, a quirky village, full of equally quirky people as him. I had so much fun with the names in The Forest. I really did. The names are amazing.

This forest, plus village, the inhabitants of the village are very strange, very insular, and they never ever leave the village. “Ooh. [whispering] Why? Why never? Because the village is next forest that has a curse on. “[gasp] A curse. I like that.” That’s how my process goes. One idea sparks another, and it’s almost like the voices in my head are brainstorming. It’s like they’re having a session where everyone– and I can almost imagine the head of the meeting going, “Come on, think outside the box people! Throw the ideas in!” It is like that, it is a meeting with everyone just throwing in ideas and throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks. That one, The Forest, I can definitely pinpoint the inspiration for that one. The others? [00:33:00] Not so much.

Sarina: Well, I think I’ve learned two things from that. One, we have very similar approaches. Two, family gatherings are your big inspiration focal point. 

Julia: Yeah, [laughs] well, two of them. Yes.

Sarina: Yes. The book that you talked about that you started at a funeral, which book is that?

Julia: That’s The Book of Eve

Sarina: All right, thank you. I couldn’t quite hear it earlier, wanted to make sure that we had the right title there.

Julia: Oh, sorry. 

Sarina: That’s okay. Do you snack while you write and what’s your beverage of choice? You’ve already said tea and water.

Julia: Yes, tea first thing. I always have tea absolutely first thing in the morning because I find coffee too aggressive. But then mid-morning, I will always break it about 11 and go and have a coffee. I am rather partial– I have proper coffee, I won’t drink instant. The only time I ever deviate from that is, those little sachets you can buy a cappuccino and stuff? I like those. Yeah, I might treat myself to one of them. [00:34:00] But when I’m actually writing, it is a glass of water. A glass of water at arm’s length from my laptop. As to snacking, no, I have breakfast, I stop for lunch, and that’s it. I don’t eat at the laptop, I don’t snack. Well, also, because you get your fingers dirty and the keyboard gets really grungy and that.

Sarina: It’s actually quite annoying to do, isn’t it? For example, say if you were to eat crisps, then you’d have all the dust on your fingers and then you would just get the keyboard dirty.

Julia: I don’t want to clean my keys. Yes.

Sarina: Some of it you never get out again. Then your keyboard just forever smells of cheese or whatever it is that you had. 

[laughter] 

Sarina: I think you’ve already mentioned some of this as well. Do you listen to music while you write? I’m pretty sure that’s a no. 

Julia: No, I don’t. The only time I ever listened to music was when a long time ago, I wrote my novella Lifesong and that was inspired by the music of the composer Karl Jenkins, and his [00:35:00] extraordinary album, Adiemus. it’s the exploration of human voice vocalizing without actual words, just made-up words. Everyone will know this of a certain age because they did the music for the British Airways ad with the people on the beach, making the symbol, that sort of song. I did while I was writing Lifesong, I did very much put on that that album, and each track kind of inspired a different piece of the book. It was very, very specific, but that’s the only time. The rest of the time, ti’s silence for me.

Sarina: This is a mean question and I’ve had all kinds of interesting reactions when I’ve asked it. Which book has inspired you the most?

Julia: Ooh, okay. [pause] Oh, I have read so many books. I learned to read at a very early age. I was reading by myself [00:36:00] because I was a very lonely child, so books were my refuge. I would have to say that going back right into the dawn of time, obviously when dinosaurs roamed the earth when I was young, Enid Blyton, The Magic Faraway Tree was my first exploration of the fantasy genre. Now, I know some people may turn around and say to me, “It’s not a fantasy book,” but three children go to a fantastical wood and climb a magical tree that’s inhabited by elves and magical creatures, and has a portal to other worlds at the top. If that’s not fantasy, then what is? It is fantasy. That triggered a lot of books not just being an escape from your world, but being an escape into a different world, to a different world of people with other creatures and other worlds that didn’t abide by the same laws as ours, perhaps. That was very early on. 

Later, of course, the Narnia books. Absolutely. I don’t think there can be any [00:37:00] fantasy author who can honestly say hand on their heart, they didn’t read the Narnia books, and were not inspired by them. [crosstalk] 

Sarina: [unintelligible [00:37:08] haven’t read them.

Julia: Oh, my goodness, you have to. It was YA fantasy before anybody even knew what that was. Narnia is such– I have no words to describe, you have to read it. 

Sarina: Okay. Maybe I’ll make a point of it this year.

Julia: They’re short books. Seriously, I constantly go back and reread them, just touching base with where it all began for me. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I can read that in a couple of hours. They’re very light quick books. They’re children’s books with a heart and a message in them. The impact cannot be underestimated, the impact that these books had on a generation, are still having. So, the Narnia books, and then when I was slightly [00:38:00] older– [unintelligible [00:38:03] I read Narnia when I was eight, maybe younger, seven, eight that kind of age. When I was slightly older 11, 12, I discovered the amazing British fantasy books by an author called Susan Cooper. She wrote The Dark Is Rising series, which are extraordinary books. They really are extraordinary. What I liked about them was they are so British. The focus is on British mythology and British myths and legends. Things like the Green Man, the Wild Hunt, Wayland’s Smithy, just things like that. They instilled a love in me of British fantasy, which came through in my books, Erinsmore and in Forest, that sort of acknowledgement of my roots. I’m very British.

Other than that, I think one book that sticks out in my mind is, it’s an Agatha Christie book called The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I remember when I was mid to late teens, I went through a [00:39:00] Agatha Christie binge where I think I read every single thing she ever wrote, one massive binge-fest, eat read of her books. This particular book blew my mind away because it was the first book I had ever read with an unreliable narrator. [crosstalk] Yes, where the person who was telling the story is lying to the reader. 

Sarina: Ooh.

Julia: Yes. It’s not until you reach the end– I don’t want to give any spoilers, it’s not until you reach the end that you realize that every single thing this narrator has told you has been a lie or has been from his point of view because he’s hiding the truth from you.

Sarina: That’s interesting.

Julia: That’s just– mind blown. The fact the narrator could lie to the reader. I read very few books since then that do that. I think it’s a very brave thing to do, and it has to be handled right. Of course, Agatha Christie was just the queen what she did. Her books are actually really short. [00:40:00] Nowadays, we always call them novellas, but she manages to get the entire story and it’s beautiful, and it tells you everything you need to know in that very small space of time. I think we could all do with reading a bit about and just seeing how she does it, how brevity of words can sometimes get across the message much more so than great big, long purple prose and everything. So, that one as well. Of course, Robin Hobb. I have long and abiding love for Robin Hobb.

Sarina: I had started reading Robin Hobb entirely because of you on Instagram. 

Julia: Aww. [chuckles] 

Sarina: I’ve still only read the one, but I’ve really, really enjoyed it.

Julia: They get better and better.

Sarina: All of her books are in my list now.

Julia: Yeah, they get better and better because she allowed herself the luxury of space and time and word counts to just have this amazing, epic story that she was like, “Okay, I’m not going to tell this in the first book. It’s not going to get told in book two, book three, book four. In fact, it’s going to take 17 books.”

Sarina: 17? 

Julia: Yeah. 17 [00:41:00] books to tell the story. You know what, you’re going to love every single word I write, and you’re going to hang on. When you finished book 17, you’re going to go, “No, I want more!” That made me unafraid to write big books. That actually inspired me that so long as a book is a page turner, it doesn’t matter how many pages there are. That gave me the courage to write books like Becoming LiliChaining DaisyBlack Ice. Big, big books, weighty books. But I have readers contact me and say, “I read Black Ice in a day, I couldn’t put it down.” That, I think, is the thing.

Sarina: On a very similar note, do you have a favorite book on the craft of writing?

Julia: Never read a book on the craft of writing. Is that a terrible thing to say? I’ve never ever–

Sarina: [crosstalk] 

Julia: I don’t like self-help books, full stop. I think they are mostly peddled by people [00:42:00] who couldn’t write an actual book, so decided to write a self-help book and scammed a lot of people out of money. 

Sarina: Oh, see, I have a few of those books. [chuckles] 

Julia: I just don’t have time to read them. I’m too busy writing. Is that crazy?

Sarina: No. You clearly are a reader anyway. It’s not like you’re a writer only and you don’t read at all, you do read quite a lot. 

Julia: [crosstalk] I do read.

Sarina: Because we seem to be so similar in our approaches, I’m wondering if maybe you’re missing out there a little bit because I love reading a good book on writing. If it’s a good book– I mean they’re not all going to work for you, because as you said, there are so many different ones and not everyone does it well, I don’t think. My favorites are the ones that I can close and I immediately feel inspired to pick up writing again. Those ones are my favorites, because I feel like I’m really taking something away from them.

Julia: Well, who knows? Maybe if I get a bit of time in the future, [00:43:00] I’ll have a look at one, but I do like that. Any spare time I have, I tend to like reading novels or other sort of works of fiction and usually of indie authors. Last year, I managed to buy, read, and review over 40 indie author books. I really want to do more, but it’s just a question of time. I’m just one person and there’s so many books on my TBR.

Sarina: Oh yeah. [crosstalk] 

Julia: Oh, I don’t look at my Kindle. I swear that thing growls at me every time I go [laughs] past it. 

Sarina: Yeah, I get the feeling. I’m now considering already the next books that I would quite like to buy and read, but then I think I’ve just bought a few they are still on my Kindle, I still haven’t read them. I should probably read those first. It’s not that simple, though.

Julia: Every now and again, I get a big stick and just stir up the contents of my Kindle and see what floats to the top. Sometimes, I’ll read a book that I actually bought [00:44:00] two, three, four years ago. I’ll finally get around to reading and reviewing it. It’s difficult, and I do feel guilty about it. But like I said, I’m just one person and I only have a certain amount of time.

Sarina: On to our last question, we’re nearly there. Do you have any advice for establishing a writing routine?

Julia: Don’t do what I do, probably. 

[laughter] 

Julia: I think sometimes establishing a writing zone can be a good idea. Now, I know most people don’t have big enough houses to have an actual writing room. That would be amazing. Wouldn’t we all love that? Just to have a proper study where we go and shut the door and that would be great? But most of us do have a corner or somewhere where we can put– even if it was just a little fold-up desk or a little table something that’s ours that we can leave or laptop or desktop or whatever on, we can have our pens, we can have our lamp, we can have our [00:45:00] writing books or notebooks or whatever. A zone that is ours and ours alone for writing in. If you have family and other people in the house, maybe rub into them that that is your zone, that they don’t touch it, they don’t dump their stuff on it, they don’t take anything from it. And when you are at that table, it’s because you are working. Unless it’s fire, flood, or blood, they must not disturb you. 

I think trying to get across to people that it is important to what you’re doing, maybe it’s not important to them, but it’s important to you. I think maybe you do have to be a little bit firm about that. Maybe be firm to yourself. I actually posted a meme a few weeks ago, which said, “If you clean a house, it’ll stay clean for a day or two. If you write a book, it’s out there forever.” I think sometimes saying to yourself, yes, I do need to go and [unintelligible [00:45:58] the bedroom, or, I do need to go and do the dishes, but [00:46:00] they will always be there for me to do. So, yeah, maybe be a little bit selfish sometimes, maybe just say, “Oh, hang it. I am writing, that’s what I’m doing.” I don’t believe in how you must write every day, because most of us have incredibly busy lives and it’s not always possible. If you’re a parent and you’re working, then obviously your job and your kids come first. But then, sometimes, I think you need to be selfish to say, [unintelligible [00:46:25] need to do it.” I hope that answered the question.

Sarina: It does. That’s wonderful advice. Thank you very much. I completely agree. That brings us to the end of our interview today. Thank you very much for coming back and talking to me again.

Julia: Having me anytime, I enjoyed it. 

Sarina: Very good. I’m glad to hear that. I always love hearing about other writers’ routines anyway, and I like to see how we all approach the same thing in slightly different ways. Today, especially I think I’ve come away with quite a few book recommendations. [00:47:00]

[laughter] 

Julia: Oh. Narnia, definitely read the Narnia books. 

Sarina: No, I’ve already opened– what was it? The Dark Is Rising. I have already opened it on Goodreads while we were talking. I’ve got it ready, and I’ll be sure to get it later because it sounds like everything I want. Thank you so much for that as well. 

Julia: You’re welcome. 

Sarina: Yeah, thank you very much for talking to me again today. Have a lovely day. Bye-bye.

Julia: Thank you, bye.

Sarina: If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @Sarian_Langer, on Instagram and Facebook @SarinaLangerWriter, and of course on my website at sarinalanger.com. Until next time, bye.


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The Writing Sparrow Episode 22 | Being a Multi-Genre Author with Julia Blake

This week I had the great pleasure of talking to Julia Blake, an author who has written every one of her books in a different genre (besides series, of course!). We had a chat about how she approaches the different genres, how she handles the marketing, whether she’s ever considered a pen name, and much more.
 

To find out more about Julia, check out her website or follow her on Instagram.

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[music]

Sarina Langer: Hello, and welcome to The Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer and this podcast is all about writing, publishing, and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started.

Welcome back friends and sparrows and good morning, it’s the 8th of February. This is Episode 22, and today I have Julia Blake with me on Zoom to talk about writing across genres. Just for reference, and for clarity, that’s not writing one book with different genres overlapping because most books do some of that anyway, but writing every book in a different genre. Welcome, Julia.

Julia Blake: Oh, good morning. Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.

Sarina: It’s really great to have you. How are you?

Julia: I’m a bit cold. It’s a bit chilly this morning. I’m okay, I’ve had my tea so I’m fine.

Sarina: I’m having a tea right now. We actually had some snow yesterday so it’s cooled down right over here.

Julia: We had some, but it’s all gone. We don’t tend to get much snow down here. 

Sarina: We don’t tend to get any [chuckles].

Julia: It’s still really cold.

Sarina: Normally, the way these interviews go is that I’ll have roughly five questions prepared, and maybe one or two from social media. Today, Instagram’s hijacked our interview.

Julia: That’s my followers for you. They’re a bit of a feisty lot, I’m afraid.

Sarina: No problem.

Julia: I hope the questions were clean.

Sarina: Yes, no, they all were. I’ve got two questions for you from myself and then I gave up because we got quite a few in from your Instagram followers. I just quickly want to apologize, before we start, to everyone who sent us questions, because I need to keep at least a little eye on the time, but also still keep it on topic. I think we got quite a lot of questions from your followers, that I ask every author in my monthly writing routine interviews anyway. If you’re up for doing one of those?

Julia: Oh, absolutely. Yes. If you want me back after this one? Absolutely.

Sarina: Absolutely. I don’t see why not. We can split it that way, that we’re doing a lot of the questions that we got today and then a lot of the others we’re going to answer in the writing routines chat that we can do, I think the next one that I’ve got for you now is April. We can schedule one for that.

Julia: Absolutely. That’s brilliant.

Sarina: Then hopefully no one is going to feel left out. To start with, if you talk us through everything that you’ve published and written so far, and which genres you’ve covered?

Julia: The Book of Eve was my first ever published book, that’s contemporary fiction, but contemporary drama. Then I self-published Lifesong my novella, which is science fiction, but it’s not about spaceships or robots or anything like that, it’s more sci-fi fantasy. Then I published my epic Becoming Lili, which is contemporary.

Well, it’s classified as contemporary women’s literature, but I’ve had plenty of men read it as well. It’s set in the ’90s so it’s borderline contemporary, almost historical. That’s weird to think that the ’90s are considered historical, but there you go.

Sarina: It really is because I was born in the ’90s. I can’t think of myself–

Julia: Oh, shush, I was born in the ’60s [laughs]. Then I published Erinsmore, which is my Narnia-inspired fantasy. A lot of people have called it YA. To be honest, it never even occurred to me it was YA until people started calling it that, but I guess it is aimed for the younger audience, but anyone can read it. I have my Blackwood Family Saga, which are very short, pacey romantic-thriller suspense novels.

I have Chaining Daisy, which is the sequel to Becoming Lili and is equally as big. I have The Forest which is a weird little one to put in a genre because it is a fantasy but there’s no elves or pixies or anything like that in it. I tend to call it folklore fantasy because it draws very heavily on ancient British myths, like the Green Man and stuff like that. I’ve got that one. I have Black Ice, of course, my latest one, which is a fairy tale retelling of Snow White, and it’s in a steampunk genre as well, so lots of melding of genres there. I think that’s it. Yes. I think that’s it.

Sarina: Wow. There you go. I think for most authors when they decide to write a book, they tend to have one genre that they write in, and then they tend to stick to that. I’d forgotten just how much you’ve done until you’ve just talked me through that. You’ve really covered almost every genre in that.

Julia: I haven’t done horror yet.

Sarina: Not yet?

Julia: Not yet. I don’t tend to read horror because I am a bit of a fraidy-cat. It upsets me mightily. I’m fine while I’m reading it, but it’s later at night when I’m alone in the house, and there’s, what’s that noise? Then everything I’ve read comes back into my head. On the flip side, that might make me really good at writing horror, because I know what scares me. Maybe if I can pen that down on a page, it might freak the heck out of my [unintelligible 00:05:38] readers as well.

I haven’t done horror. I haven’t done Western. I haven’t done a true romance either.

Sarina: All right. There is still some places there where you–

Julia: There’s still a few. There are a few. Also, I haven’t done what I call true sci-fi, a true out in the planets, futuristic sci-fi, haven’t done that yet. We’ll see.

Sarina: Do you think you might do those genres in the future or you just not interested in those at all?

Julia: Definitely science fiction.

Sarina: Definitely science fiction.

Julia: Oh, yes. Definitely. I’ve got two books in my head that have been in my head for about five years now, which are true science fiction. Yes, that’s definitely in [crosstalk].

Sarina: You heard it here first, everyone. Julia Blake is going to write science fiction [laughs]. Do you find it easy to switch between genres? I don’t think you tend to work on too many works in progress at the same time anyway. Say, once you finished a book and you then move on to the next project, which is a completely different genre, do you find it easy to switch? This is also– [crosstalk]

Julia: Sorry, I’ll let you finish that.

Sarina: It’s also a question that seconded by @lilaslibrary on Instagram. To add to that, do you find it easy to switch between genres like I’ve asked, between fantasy, romance, steampunk, and all that, but also categories like young adult, new adults, and middle grade and what have you?

Julia: Yes, I do. To be honest, I don’t really think about what genre I’m writing in. When I get struck by a story idea, it’s just, “Oh, gosh, I want to write this story,” and I start writing it. It’s not until I’m halfway through or even finished it, that I think, “Oh, okay that’s a YA fantasy,” or, “Oh, that’s a romantic suspense.” Sometimes it’s not even until I publish it that people go, “Yes. This is YA,” and I see it, “Oh Okay. I guess that’s YA.” [laughs]

To me, a good story is a good story, the genre is just the packaging it comes in. I really don’t understand the hang-up that some people have with reading outside of their genre or writing outside of their genre.

Sarina: No, I [unintelligible 00:07:55]

Julia: It’s like a lot of people say, “Oh, I hate science fiction,” but they’ve seen Star War, or they hate fantasy, but they’ve seen Lord of the Rings. The story can hold people’s attention and drag them across genres.

Sarina: I think most stories tend to overlap with various genres anyway. Most stories tend to have some kind of mystery element in it. Most stories tend to have maybe a romance subplot. They’re all overlapping to a degree anyway.

Julia: No. We don’t all live our life in one grove. We have different moods, different things we do, different sides to our personality so why stick to just one genre?

Sarina: Exactly. One question that we didn’t get, which I’m a bit surprised about, that I just thought of right now. Let me ask you before I forget, did you ever consider to write maybe under a pen name for some of those genres? I know many authors, say, once they’ve established a reader base, maybe in fantasy and then maybe they want to write romance, for example. They think this is great, and I want to do it, but will my fantasy readers like it, so should I consider using a pen name for those new books? That’s never occurred to you, has it because you’ve published them all under the same name?

Julia: It never even occurred to me until I was about three or four books in and someone sent me a rather snippy message saying, “You really should use a pen name for all your different books.”

Sarina: Oh.

Julia: I know. That took me aback a bit, and I thought, “Well hang on a minute. I’m up to four different genres already, how many pen names am I supposed to have?” I’m now up to seven or eight genres. I would not know who I was. I would lose track of who I was. Can you imagine how many Instagram pages I would have to have?

Sarina: God, that’d just be so exhausting.

Julia: Just the thought of it, just leaves me tired. I’m sorry guys. I’m Julia Blake. Everything is under my name, it’s pick a mix. It’s also had a good knock on because I think a lot of my readers have been happy to explore the genres with me. Sometimes I get wonderful messages from readers saying, “I’d never read fantasy before but I read it because you wrote it, and you know what? I loved it. Now I’m going to try a book by this other fantasy author.”

Sarina: Oh, great.

Julia: That is so amazing. I’ve had it, especially with my last book, Black Ice, which was steampunk. The number of people who contact me going, “Steampunk, what is that exactly? I don’t think I like steampunk.” As if they were telling me what I could or could not write.

I went back and said, “You’ll love it. Think corsets, think airships, think cogs and clockwork,” and they went, “Oh, okay, we’ll give it a try.” Every single one of them who’s tried steampunk for the first time has come back to me said, “We absolutely loved it. Can you write more?”

Sarina: That’s the best kind of feedback, isn’t it? That you’ve introduced someone to the genre, and they ended up loving it, even though they thought that it wouldn’t be for them?

Julia: Yes, absolutely. I think it’s the story and I think every author has their own individual voice. If you stay true to that voice, it shouldn’t matter what genre you’re writing in.

Sarina: No, because, at the end of the day, you’re just telling someone a story.

Julia: Yes. We’re storytellers.

Sarina: I think with the pen name thing, it’s just become your thing, to write different genres anyway. It’s not like you’ve been, say you’ve written 10 fantasy books first. I keep coming back to fantasy because that’s my primary genre. Just as an example, think if you had maybe written say, 10 horror books first, and then thought, “I’m going to go in a completely different direction now and do a romance fantasy story,” then that might have been different, but because you’ve always done different genres anyway, it’s–

Julia: I can start.

Sarina: Yes. It’s just that’s your thing, isn’t it? It’s like your genre is to write in every genre.

Julia: Yes. My tagline is Julia Blake, an author for all seasons and I like to think that there is something for everyone in my books. If you don’t like fantasy, fine, try my romantic suspense. If you don’t like that, well, why don’t you try my sci-fi? If you don’t like that, why don’t you try my steampunk? There’s always something for everyone in my books.

Sarina: That’s a clever way to approach marketing. To come to our next question, this one from the constant_voiceover on Instagram. They are all from Instagram, by the way. Just so I don’t repeat myself, if I have a question from someone else, just assume it’s from Instagram, because they will ask. What’s your favorite genre to write?

Julia: I knew I was going to be asked that. I just knew it and I thought about it last night. When I’m writing a book, I tend to be very obsessed with the book that I’m writing. I’m not one of those authors who can write two or three books at once, or even be writing the next book while a previous book is in edit. I can’t do that. I am a bit like a new mother with a newborn baby. I’m completely in love with the story I’m writing to the point of obsession, to the point that my daughter thinks she’s an orphan.

[laughter]

Julia: I do tend to tunnel vision my books. Say, for example, while I’m writing Erinsmore, I’m thinking, “Oh, my goodness, this fantasy I’m writing is the best thing. I’m going to write, nothing but fantasy from now on because I’m loving it so much.” I launch the book, and it’s all very exciting. Then after a few weeks, I start to think, “Well, I guess that was all very nice but I have this great idea for a girl living in London. Why don’t I write that?”

Then I launch into that book and then that becomes my latest obsession but saying that I do have a fondness for fantasy, I must admit. I do love the liberation that you have with fantasy. The fact that if you want a talking dragon, well, heck, you just have a talking dragon. I love that there are no rules. That so long as it makes sense within the context of the world you have created, then that’s okay.

Then it must fit in with the laws that you have established in your world but after that, anything goes. Then writing Black Ice, which was steampunk, and a fairytale retelling, I really enjoyed writing that. It just flew out of me. Well, six weeks from beginning to end for a 150,000-word book is not by going even by my standards. I think it was because I just enjoyed it so much. I just enjoyed the story so much. I hope that answers the question.

Sarina: It does. You also tend to write primarily in standalone novels, I just realized. You don’t tend to have series as much. I mean, you do have a few but I feel like–

Julia: I do, I do.

Sarina: -it mostly.

Julia: I do have series. Well really the Perennials Trilogy, that’s a series. There’s two books in that so far. Third book, hopefully out this year. I have The Blackwood Family Saga that had three books in it so far, Book 4, hopefully out this year. Surprise announcement Erinsmore is going to be part of a series. It’s only Book 1. I know. I have the next two books in my head already.

Sarina: Well, I feel honored that you’re announcing it here.

Julia: Also, the latest one I wrote, Black Ice, I did plan for that to be a standalone, in fact it was originally going to be a short story but I mean, look how that turned out. That is going to be Book 1 in a five-book series, all fairy tale which is all based within the five kingdoms steampunk world that I created. Really, give me a couple of years and it will be mostly serieses I’m writing.

[laughter]

Sarina: I stand corrected. To get back to our questions from your followers, here’s a question from McKenna Dean Romans. How do you make it in such a way that your readers understand the different genres you’re writing in, especially, for example, closed-door versus steamy or paranormal versus contemporary?

Julia: Good question. I’m a bit rubbish at promoting. I tend to approach promoting the way you’re supposed to cook pasta. I just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. I make it very clear when I’m writing and promoting my books, what nature of book they are. To be honest, none of my books are very explicit. There are one or two scenes in Becoming Lili and Chaining Daisy and there are one or two scenes in Book of Eve but they are pushed as 18+.

They make no pretense of being for a younger audience than that. I mean, for example, when I was writing Black Ice, I really pushed it as a steampunk fantasy retelling. For weeks before it was published, I was posting character pictures and backgrounds and information and snippets, just to really get people accustomed to the fact, “Oh, okay, Julia’s new book is steampunk. All right. Okay, what’s this all about?” By the time the book comes out, people are comfortable with what genre it is.

They have read the snippets. They know what age it’s aimed at. Basically, I’m a fairly clean writer. Most of my books are clean. I mean, The Blackwood Family Saga are clean. They’re hot. There is sensuality in there but I closed the bedroom door very firmly because I did make a conscious decision to have a series that your gran could really. Mind you, I have had some grandmothers read my other books and come back to me about the sex scenes going, “That was very good.”

[laughter]

Sarina: That’s a sweet comment, isn’t it? Maybe there’s another genre for you to explore one day, really hot, steamy erotica.

Julia: Well, you may laugh but the first-ever book I ever wrote that is still unpublished. Well, let’s just say if I ever published it, it would kick poop out of 50 Shades and steal its lunch money. It really would, but I don’t know if I dare publish it.

Sarina: Would you then have a pen name for that?

Julia: What? No.

Sarina: No risk on that? No one would know it’s you.

Julia: Then it wouldn’t sell.

[laughter]

Sarina: Wouldn’t it though? No offense to anyone who might maybe take offense of it. I don’t know but I always feel like erotica sells a lot easier because maybe reader expectations are low, and maybe they are less likely to look for story in those and more likely to look for something hot and steamy.

Julia: Well, this was the thing with the first book I ever wrote. The first full-length novel I ever wrote and a few people have read it and they’ve all said the story is amazing. The story just gets you by the throat and doesn’t let go because it’s interesting.

Sarina: Literally by the throat.

Julia: Yes. It was written in complete and utter first person. Absolutely in the moment, first-person, and then they say, “But the sex scene. Oh, my word.” [laughs] I might. We’ll see.

Sarina: We’ll see. No, pressure. To get back to the questions from your followers, here’s one from Nets Shorts. My stories are all over the genre spectrum, but it’s because those are the stories my characters bring me. Is it the same for you or do you plan it?

Julia: I don’t plan anything. I think we all know that I don’t plan a thing. Yes. The way I work, so usually I imagine a scene, but sometimes it is the character who just strolls through my head as if they own the place. They sit down, cross throw the legs over the arm of the chair, and say, “Right, I have this story for you, and it’s going to be a good one, so get your fingers on the keyboard and get ready to write.” Like I said, it’s not until I’m halfway through the story that I suddenly think, “Okay, this is some fantasy?” or, “This is a contemporary, or this is a romantic suspense or whatever.”

The stories just come out of nowhere. I never plan. Now I’ve got more books behind me, I am thinking in my head, “I need to write the third book in The Perennials, I need to write the next book in The Blackwoods. I’d really like to sit down and write the next book in The Five Kingdoms. There is a degree of planning there that I know which books, I’m honor-bound to get out next but in terms of the actual story, no, I never know what’s going on.

Sarina: When you sit down to write a new work in progress, do you not have any idea of where it might go or how it might end? Nothing at all?

Julia: I know that really surprises you. I know, you can’t–

Sarina: I can’t wrap my head around it.

[laughter]

Sarina: When you sit down to write, how do you know what to write if you don’t know where it’s going to go? How does anything come out of your fingertips?

Julia: I usually have a title, believe it or not, the first thing I usually get is the title. Something will pop in my head, and I’ll think, “Oh, that’s a really good title. Okay, I need to write a book to go with that title.”

Sarina: Oh, I like that.

Julia: If that’s the title, [unintelligible 00:21:46] out there. I’ll sit down and then sometimes I will have a character as well. One or two characters will be there and they’ll really establish themselves so I’ll know that this character is going to be the main character. Then usually, believe it or not, I have an ending.

Sarina: Oh, really?

Julia: I know where I’m going to end up but I have no idea how to get there. Then the longest thing it takes me to write is the first line. That’s the thing for me, getting that first line. Sometimes, it can take me absolutely ages to think of the first line. Then when I’ve got it, bam, I write the next line, and then the next, then the next that’s just how it goes on and on. All of a sudden, bam, I’ve written 150,000 words, and it all pans together, somehow.

Sarina: Just like that? [chuckles]

Julia: Just like that.

Sarina: Surprise 150,000 words just out of nowhere.

Julia: Yes. Kind of.

[laughter]

Sarina: That’s amazing. Next, we have a few questions from, In our gumboots. I hope I got that right. On average, how many drafts do you write off each book? I’ve adjusted a few of these questions just to bring them back again to our topic. How many drafts do you write of each book and does it vary for each genre?

Julia: Again, that’s a really tough question to answer because I’m always fiddling with my manuscripts. I’m one of those writers where the first words down are pretty much as is going to be. I’m usually really happy with the first words that come down. I am one of those authors who does edit as I go. I know I’m not supposed to but it’s my routine, it works for me.

I’ll finish a writing session and I will just read through what I’ve written, basically, to find out what I’ve written, because it’s all a mystery. I had no idea until I read it through and go, “Oh, we’re doing that now. Are we? okay, fine.” I’ll read through and if I see any obvious typos or punctuation or errors, I will correct them there and then.

I’ve learned from bitter experience that if you don’t change that typo now, you will never see it again until it’s in print.

[laughter]

Sarina: [unintelligible 00:24:09] on that.

Julia: Oh no. I do tend to edit when I finish writing, say a chapter or a session or however many words I’ve written, I’ll go back and I’ll read it through just to make sure it flows and it hangs right in my head. If I see any typos, I’ll pick them up. Then the next time I sit down to do another writing session, I will just read back through the previous bit, just to get me warmed up back into the sprint as it were, and then I can just take off and do another one.

In terms of how many drafts do I do, where they are radically different, not many, but I’m always constantly fiddling and polishing and amending. I’m not one of those authors who takes massive chunks out either, not usually, if it’s there it tends to stay. I hope I’ve answered the question.

Sarina: I think so. The line between, which number of draft you’re on ends up blurring a bit then, doesn’t it?

Julia: It does.

Sarina: I sometimes have moments where I’m not sure, is this draft two, is it draft three, did I accidentally already go into draft four on some stage. It can muddy quite easily.

Julia: I have a unique way now, not unique, but a new way of saving myself, because I did get a little bit like that where I would have, Erinsmore one, Erinsmore final, Erinsmore final final. Erinsmore this is the final, Erinsmore oh please let this be the final. Now, if I’ve done a significant amount and I save it, I put the date. I save it under the date so I can always see which one is the latest. Then I don’t, like I have done in a mad frenzy, end up deleting the latest one. That was a hard lesson learned.

Sarina: Yes, that sounds like it. It’s not something you want. Next question from, In our gumboots, how do you know when a story is ready for beta readers, and my addendum, and do you get different beta readers for different genres?

Julia: Yes, I learned to my cost that it is a good idea to make sure your beta readers are comfortable with the genre that you have written in. They are comfortable with the age range of the book. For example, The Forest I gave it to a few people. I wasn’t going to publish The Forest, actually because when I first wrote it, 10 years ago, I gave it to my then sister in law and a friend to read. They’d both read The Book of Eve and they had both read Becoming Lili and they loved it.

They read The Forest, and I had it handed back to me and neither of them had progressed beyond the first chapter.

Sarina: Oh no. [unintelligible 00:26:53]

Julia: I know. The thing is, when I gave it to them, I thought The Forest was the finest piece of work I’d ever done. I absolutely loved it. I’d put my heart and soul into The Forest so when they handed it back with just one chapter, picked up and said, “Didn’t really grip me, couldn’t get into it.” I was devastated.

Sarina: Oh, I bet you were.

Julia: I was absolutely devastated so I just threw it in a drawer and it languished there and on various hard drives for 10 years. Every now and then I would think about it and with a little pang of regret and think, “Oh, well,” but then I was talking to my favorite cousin. She was going through all the books because she’s one of my best friends. She tends to buy all my books.

She said, “I have read all the books you’ve written,” I said, “Actually, you never read The Forest.” She pounced on me and said, “What book is The Forest, I want to read it,” I said, “It’s not very good.” She said, “I’ll be the judge of that.” I gave her this huge spiral-bound copy of The Forest and she went away. Two days later, she phoned me and said, “This book has got to be published, this is the best thing you have ever written. I have read for two days straight, and I could not put it down.” I was, “Okay. Right.”

I went through it, gave it a really good edit, tidied it up, updated it. By this point, I had published, The Book of Eve, Lifesong, Becoming Lili, Erinsmore, and Lost and Found. I think Fixtures and Fittings as well. I was more confident with the whole publishing process, I was more happy in my writing. I tidied it all up and I sent it out to three beta readers, but I might not have picked them too carefully, because some of them gave me very negative feedback. They were YA writers and romance writers and it was a little dark, and a little wordy for them.

Then for the first time, I decided to do ARC readers. I picked really carefully and I found ARC readers who were into that genre and sent out and the feedback that time was much, much better. Yes, I do try and fit the beta reader to the genre. Although I do have now a couple of amazing beta readers, they’re happy with any genre, just that they’re really happy with it. It is a case of finding the right fit because wrong feedback, especially if it’s on your first book can be absolutely devastating. It can even prevent you from publishing which is really a shame.

Sarina: It makes such a big difference, doesn’t it, just the kind of feedback that we get? I think even just giving feedback in itself is a skill, really. It’s something that you can get better at all the time.

Julia: Yes. I’m a terrible beta reader.

Sarina: How do you know when your story’s ready for beta readers?

Julia: When I can’t see anything else wrong with it. When I have looked at it so many times that my brains are leaking out of my ears and I absolutely loathe my book. I think when you reach the point of utter hatred every time you look at your book, that is the time to say, enough and just send it on its way. That’s the time and then step back.

Sarina: Eventually, you’ve just gone over the same story one too many times.

Julia: To some extent.

Sarina: It’s not really even that you hate the story as such, it’s just that you know where all the plot twists are, you know where all the misleading bits are. It doesn’t work in the same way anymore.

Julia: No, and you’re, “No one is going to like this. This is rubbish. This is nonsense.” Then, of course, you send it off to your Beta readers and then they come back with, “That’s amazing, we loved it,” and then faith is restored.

Sarina: It’s always the best thing when the first bit of beta feedback you get is something positive. It makes such a big difference. Next question, still from In Our Gumboots, which of your novels took the longest to create from the time you started writing it to the time it was released, if we take The Forest out of that because that’s just sat there basically for 10 years?

Julia: Well, actually, I’ve been writing all my life. When I was a child, I wrote plays for my dolls to perform. I’ve always written silly poetry. Every birthday card that went to a family member usually had a dark poem in it. I wrote school plays as well, which I put on, which was nice. I wrote short stories, but I never wrote anything serious because life, work, that sort of thing, children. It wasn’t until about 2005 when a friend asked me to go to a six-week writing course that my local college were holding.

I went along to that, and from the first session, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head. When I got home that night, I started to write my first novel. At that writing course, that’s also where I met Becky Wright.

Sarina: I was just going to ask because I knew that you two had met on a writing course.

Julia: Yes, that was where we met over 15 years ago now. Good grief, it’s really been that long. I just wrote incessantly. My daughter was still young enough to have incredibly long naps, and go down to bed really early. I was on my own. I just was consumed by these books. In a three year period, I wrote the explicit novel that I mentioned, I also wrote Becoming Lili, I wrote The Book of Eve, I wrote Erinsmore, I wrote The Forest, I wrote Lost and Found and I wrote Lifesong, as well as all the short stories and the poetry that is in Eclairs for Tea that was all written between 2005 and 2009/’10. Maybe even shorter than that, I think it’s only three years I wrote it over.

Between 2005 and 2007 I wrote all of those books. I did try, I then tried until 2016, I tried and tried and tried to get an agent or a publisher, but it’s a very closed shop, especially in Britain. I guess I just wasn’t what they were looking for.

Sarina: It can be very difficult.

Julia: It can be soul-crushing, it really can. I think the hardest thing that new authors have to accept, is that sometimes getting traditionally published, it’s not down to you. It’s not down to talent, it is literally down to luck and being in the right place at the right time and sometimes even knowing the right people. That’s what it all boils down to. That’s a really hard lesson to learn that, it’s not your book, your book is great. You are a good writer, you just didn’t get lucky.

I look upon it as the same way that not everyone who buys a lottery ticket wins the jackpot. It doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you as a person. It just means you weren’t lucky. Then eventually, The Book of Eve was picked up in 2016, I believe it was by small press. At the time, I thought, “Oh, wow, I’ve made it, this is it.” It doesn’t work that way.

Small press is a hard, hard decision to take because usually, they have no money to promote your books. They don’t even edit them, even though this company said that they would edit my book, they didn’t. They literally published my first draft, which was devastating for me. Then when I went back to them and said, “Look, it’s got so many things wrong. I thought you were going to edit.”

They said, “Oh, no, well, you didn’t–” Obviously, I didn’t pay to have it published, but apparently I had to pay to have the editing package and I hadn’t been aware of that.

Sarina: Oh, my God. Things that many writers don’t realize when they first look into getting traditionally published is that even if you do get a really good agent, and even if you do get maybe the best publishing house, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have any more work to do yourself anyway. You still need to do a lot of marketing yourself, that doesn’t stop just because you have a publishing house. For example, you may say there were certainly pros and cons to each side, but don’t think that you won’t need to do any marketing, for example, just because you have a publisher.

Julia: I know. I’ve heard so many stories, I actually personally know an author who was delighted to be picked up by a traditional publishing house, quite a big one, actually. She thought that that was it, she could then just go home and write and that would be wonderful. They did absolutely no promoting of her at all. She was just left adrift, not knowing how to promote herself.

Of course, her book sank without trace, and then when it came to picking up the contract, the second year, or even being interested in her second book, they weren’t interested because she hadn’t made them any money at the end of the day.

Sarina: It’s really–

Julia: That’s all publishing houses care about, making money.

Sarina: Yes, because, ultimately, it’s their business. They have to consider if they can make any money with you because they don’t want to go bust basically on a bad deal, essentially, so which sounds really cold, but it’s just the nature of being in a business with someone. It needs to be profitable for both of you. I think that’s something to maybe really research and really read into, if you are looking for agents or publishing houses, just what they are going to do. What their part of the deal is going to be. [crosstalk] Just be aware.

Julia: Yes, check how long, check if they’re going to take your copyright away from you and how long for.

Sarina: Yes, don’t make any assumptions.

Julia: I got caught badly with that one because I didn’t realize. Well, I knew they were taking my copyright away from me for The Book of Eve, but I didn’t really fully appreciate what that meant, and how long they were taking it away for. Then suddenly, I’m self-published, I want to bring this book back into the fold with my other books, and publish it with a new cover to fit my brand, but I couldn’t, because they held copyright. They held it for six long years, which was awful, but of course, I finally got it last year.

To answer the original question, I would say 10 to15 years is how long some of my books have taken between first conception and publishing. That’s the answer.

Sarina: There you are. Then we’ve got two or three more questions from Lilaslibrary. What made you decide to write books across genres and the age spectrum? I think I already know the answer to that because it sounds like you don’t really plan it like that, it just happens.

Julia: It just happens. It’s very organic, my writing. An idea strikes me and I just sit down and write, there are really no plans. At any given time, I have. I added it up the other day, I actually have 20 story ideas, the books floating around my head right now. It tends to be whichever story is shouting the loudest, is the one that gets written first.

[laughter]

Sarina: How do you keep track of them? Or do you have maybe your notebook where you’ve got them all written down?

Julia: Oh, you would love me to have a notebook, wouldn’t you?

Sarina: I really would.

Julia: You’re [unintelligible 00:38:07] notebooks out. Do you have a notebook?

[laughter]

Julia: No, I have no notebooks. [chuckles] They just float around in there and some of them have been in there for 15 years.

Sarina: What if you forget one, Julia, that will be my worry.

Julia: No. It will come back.

Sarina: Okay. [chuckles]

Julia: If I forget one there’s another 19 going on in there. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stories.

Sarina: Fair enough. [chuckles] I think that probably answers the next question from Lilaslibrary as well, which is you’ve written a novella, a short story collection, and novels, but what’s your favorite and why? 

Julia: Novels. Absolutely novels. I wrote the short stories during a period in my life when I was a very busy single mother working and I liked them for their immediacy. Also, a lot of the short stories in Eclairs for Tea were original homework assignments from that writing course that I went on. We were–

Sarina: Oh, really?

Julia: Yes, a lot of them are my work, my homework assignments.

Sarina: [unintelligible 00:39:10]

Julia: I kept them all these years, which is great. Poetry, I went through a stage of writing poetry, because it’s a bit like a one night stand, poetry. I always think poetry is a one night stand. Short stories are a summer fling, holiday fling, and then novels are a marriage [chuckles] commitment.

Sarina: That’s a nice way of putting it.

Julia: I had a lot of poetry in my head and I wrote it down. Basically, when I write poetry, it has to be based on something that happened in my life, something real. I’m very much a kitchen sink poetress, that my poetry is not a daffodil or a glowing cloud in sight. I tend to write more about things like the school run and my grandmother and going to Weight Watchers.

Everyday things that people can relate to. I wrote the poetry during an intense year of my life when I was so busy. I was going through a divorce, I didn’t have the headspace to really write anything more complex or that needed a bigger commitment. Poetry was something I could write down while my daughter was there and stuff like that. I don’t think I’ll ever write any poetry. I think that was it. Also novels, definitely novels. The longer the better. What is it with me and long books?

Sarina: Oh, tt’s nice when you can really lose yourself in a book. Obviously, you can also go either way that if the writing doesn’t really mesh with you, you might then look at the page numbers and go, “Oh, God I still have 600 left to go.” Equally, I think the longest book that I’ve read at least recently was The Wise Man’s Fear, which is maybe four pages short of 1000 but I read the first book in that series before that which is In The Name of The Wind. Of course it is. That’s 664 pages long I think.

With both of them, that’s nearly 2000 pages but at no point in that did I think, this is too long. If anything, I actually thought that these are still too short and I wanted more of it. I read one right after the other. I think as long as the story is really compelling and you are really in there, you can really lose yourself. Then by all means, the longer the better. Give me more of the nice word building 

Julia: I think if it’s a page-turner then, the reader won’t care how many pages there are.

Sarina: No.

Julia: Becoming Lily is 490 odd pages, and I’ve had people read it in a day. Literally.

Sarina: Wow. God, I’m such a slow reader I can’t even comprehend that.

Julia: They bought it in the morning, they read it during the day. They posted their review next morning.

Sarina: I don’t understand how that works. I’m such a slow reader. That’s pretty incredible to me.

Julia: I was quite surprised by that one. I was like, “You read it?” “Yes, I’m now reading the next one.” “Oh, okay.”

Sarina: Amazing. Last question, still from Lilaslibrary, do you find short stories more difficult to write? I would second that question actually because I have been trying to write some short stories and did something that for me is a lot harder than writing a full novel.

Julia: I find it very hard to keep brief. Black Ice was originally going to be a short story. The anthology that I believe you were going to be a part of as well with the [crosstalk]–

Sarina: Oh, yes.

Julia: That was when I first had the idea for Black Ice. It was going to be a short story of about 3000 to 4000 words. Of course that all fell through, and it just sat on my hard drive. The opening chapter just sat on my hard drive for about three years, until suddenly, I just discovered it and ideas began to twist. In the end, I ended up completely discarding that first chapter because it no longer fitted in with the story. I just wrote and wrote and wrote.

I like writing short stories. I wrote one actually last year, which was included in the VE Day celebration book victory, 75 years last year, from VE Day. That was nice going back to writing a short story. I did enjoy it. I think the rules are different with short stories.

Sarina: It’s a big change of pace.

Julia: Yes, one of the exercises that our teaching needs to give us in this writing course was to write a story of only 100 words. We weren’t allowed to use any more words than 100 words. It had to have a beginning, a middle, a twist, and an end. That’s a lot to do in 100 words.

Sarina: Oh it is. That sounds really interesting, though. It sounds quite fun. I might give it a [inaudible 00:43:53].

Julia: It’s a good mental exercise for writers. It really is. It also helps you with things like writing the blurb?

Sarina: Oh, I bet it does. I used to hate writing the blurb but I actually quite enjoy it now because I feel like I’ve sussed out how to do it well. Of course, I could be completely wrong about that. It could still be terrible. It reminds me of an exercise that we did when- I can’t remember what year it would have been. It was at some point while I was in school, it was either primary school or maybe high school, I’m not sure. Where when we were given an assignment to write a story that we were given three words at random, a noun a verb, and maybe an adjective. Then we had to write our story, incorporating those three words. I like little challenges like that.

Julia: They are good mental exercises for writers. Have a go at it, but it’s harder than you think to stay within 100 words.

Sarina: Oh, no. I imagine it would be very hard.

Julia: Yes. Actually, I did three short flash fiction like that, three of them are in Eclairs for Tea. One got extended. Two of them are in their, 100 words and under. Then the third one, I actually entered it to the Reader’s Digest 100 word story. That was actually Eclairs for Tea. I entered that, and it won. I was published in the Reader’s Digest back in 2008, something like that.

When I decided to amalgamate all my short stories and my poetry plus Lifesong, into Eclairs for Tea, I expanded a bit on Eclairs for Tea, because I felt there was more I wanted to say, it was too brief. That’s still a short story. It’s still only about 400 words, Eclairs for Tea, but it says everything within those 400 words. I think learning that brevity, learning to paw down to the bone, to be able to get across your meaning in as few words as possible it’s a good exercise. It’s good training.

Sarina: Yes, it sounds like it is. One last thing, before we wrap it up. Do you have any advice for writers who want to try writing maybe in different genres, but maybe aren’t quite sure how to start or even if they should?

Julia: Do it, just do it. You don’t have to publish what you’ve written, you don’t have to even let anybody else read it. If you have always written just romance and you want to try your hand at fantasy, maybe ease your way in with a fantasy romance. A romance but in a fantasy world or something like that. There are ways to bleed the genres into each other. That is not such a huge leap for you. Maybe try it that way. Maybe write a short story in a different genre first.

See how you get on with that but don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do whatever you want to do because there is no limits. You can write whatever you want to write. If you’re a self-published author, you really can write whatever you want to write. Do it. Just do it, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Sarina: Thank you so much. That’s fantastic advice. That’s a very good positive note to end on as well. Thank you so much for stopping by.

Julia: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Sarina: Of course. Thank you so much for having a chat with me. I hope that we’ve answered most of the questions that you follow us at. We will pick up all the other ones like what’s your favorite food for writing? When we do the writing routines interview, which will then go live sometime later in April.

Julia: Okay, that would be wonderful. I look forward to it.

Sarina: Me too. Thank you so much again, and bye.

Julia: Bye.

Sarina: If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course on my website at sarinalanger.com. Until next time, bye.


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